Title: Ayesha at Last
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance, Muslims, Retellings
I’m a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, and, indeed, anything Jane Austen. Which means I’m always happy and intrigued when I get the pleasure of reading a retelling of her classics. The fact that this was one of those books that I just had sent in a miscellaneous box… it left me feeling incredibly happy and over the moon. And, yes, I am completely obsessed with Jalaluddin now. She is an amazing writer, and once I sunk into this book, I struggled to put it down.
I’ve not read a lot of stories which feature Muslims. It’s definitely a cultural outlook that I am slowly increasing in my reading. But it is still incredibly sparse. Reading a retelling of a well-loved classic with this spin on it gave me an even greater understanding than I had expected. Not only was it a storyline that I already loved, but it was a cultural reality and life that I am completely fascinated by. (To be fair, I’m fascinated by anything that is not my own reality, hence the reading of a lot of books.) This window into another world also reminded us that pride and prejudice exist for everyone, no matter what their own cultural and social realities.
Unlike Pride and Prejudice, I didn’t find any of the “villains” in this story to be particularly villainous. Yes, they were a little difficult to stomach in moments, but you could also understand what drove them. Often it was small-mindedness. But it was still painful to read about, and the characters weren’t likeable. They were just… somehow more understandable. I love when the “villains” of a story are like this – it reminds you that often the “bad guys” in your own life have their own drivers and needs. It might not be exactly good and kind, but it is a little more understandable and relatable. It also takes an amazing writer to write characters that are completely unlikeable but totally understandable.
I absolutely adored this novel, and it is one that I look forward to reading again and again. There are so many fine details that pepper throughout this book that I found really intriguing and fun. I absolutely adored this and am kind of sad that it was over so soon. Which for me, is the mark of a truly amazing story.
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